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Gunner Lee Thornton, 22, from Blackpool, was fatally shot in Basra, Iraq on September 7, 2006. Lee was in the 12th Regiment Royal Artillery and was the 118th British soldier to be killed in Iraq. Lee had written a last letter to his fiancée, 21-year-old Helen O'Pray, in case he did not return.

Hi babe, I don't know why I am writing this, because I really hope that this letter never gets to you, because if it does that means I am dead. It also means I never had time to show you just how much I really did love you.

You have shown me what love is and what it feels like to be loved. Every time you kissed me and our lips touched so softly, I could feel it. I got the same magical feeling as our first kiss. I could feel it when our hearts get so close they are beating as one.

You are the beat of my heart, the soul in my body; you are me, because without you I am nothing. I love you, Helen, you are my girlfriend, my fiancée and my best friend.

You are the person I know I could turn to when I needed help - you are the person I looked at when I needed to smile and you are the person I went to when I needed a hug. When I am away, it is like I have left my soul at your side.

You have shown me how to live and you have shown me how to be truly happy. I want you to know that every time I smile, you have put it there. You make me smile when others can't, you make me feel warm when I am cold.

You have shown me so much love and so much more. I want you to know how much you mean to me. You are my whole world and I love you with all my heart. You are my happiness.

Every night I spent away I had a photo of you on my headboard. Each night I would go to bed, kiss my fingers then touch your face.

I put the photo over my bed so you could look over me as I slept. Well, now it is my turn to look over you as you sleep and keep you safe in your dreams. I will always be looking over you to make sure you're safe.

Helen, I want to say something and I mean this more than I ever did before. You were the love of my life, the girl of my dreams. Just because I have passed away does not mean I am not with you. I'll always be there looking over you, keeping you safe.

So whenever you feel lonely, just close your eyes and I'll be there, right by your side.

Love always and for ever, Lee






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